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Modesty Blaise

Modesty Blaise
Real name
Current alias
Modesty Blaise

Secret Agent
First appearance

Evening Standard (13th May 1963)


In 1945, a nameless girl escaped from a Displaced Person camp in Kalyros, Greece. Remembering nothing of her past, she wandered the world, across North Africa and the Middle East, learning to survive by her wits, befriended along the way by a wandering Jewish Hungarian scholar named Lob, who educated her and gave her a name: Modesty (later, she added Blaise, the name of Merlin's tutor from Arthurian legend). Lob died when Modesty was just 12 years old.

In 1953, Modesty took control of a criminal gang in Tangier and eventually expanded it into an international organisation, "The Network", acquiring a trusted right hand man, British born former French Foreign Legionnaire Willie Garvin, along the way (Willie and Modesty became inseparable, though their relationship was always totally platonic, both of them taking numerous lovers over the years). Eventually, Modesty obtained British nationality by marrying and then divorcing alcoholic Englishman James Turner.

The now rich Modesty, accompanied by the faithful Willie, retired to England, but the pair soon became bored by their new, idle lifestyle. After receiving a request for assistance from Sir Gerald Tarrant of the Secret Service, Modesty and Willie embarked on a new career as adventurers, sometimes acting as operatives of Her Majesty's Government, while at other times acting entirely on their own.

Powers and abilities


Proficient in most forms of unarmed combat


None, apparently.



Various, including a Colt .32 revolver and a "kongo" (Yawara stick)


  • 10,183 Modesty Blaise strips were published between 1963 and 2011, and several additional stories fall outside the 99 storylines which make up the main body of work, including two comic books. The strip has appeared in numerous newspapers across the world, and there have also been several reprint collections (including a series from Titan Books).
  • Modesty (the character, not the trait) has appeared in novels, radio and TV dramas and movies.
  • Other artists who worked on the strip following Jim Holdaway included John M. Burns, Pat Wright, Neville Colvin and, most notably, the artist now perhaps most closely associated with the character, Enrique Romero. Its creator, Peter O'Donnell, wrote the strip until his death in 2010, the final installment seeing print in April 2011.


One of Modesty's most notorious moves was the "Nailer", in which she would distract an opponent by unexpectedly appearing topless, giving either herself or Willie a chance to incapacitate them.


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